Looking Forward...

Looking Forward...
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


     I have chosen to place “lying” as a topic for this week’s discussion. According to Bok (1979, p.16), lying is “an intentionally deceptive message in the form of statement.” Other than the taking of human life, the moral issue of lying is usually considered the most important and the least acceptable moral violations humans can perform (Thiroux, 2007). I believe that most of us feel lying is wrong in general because it tend to destroy the trust that is so essential to vital human relationships. We like to think, for example, that others will not lies to us, yet many are realistic enough to realize that someone may do that. The recipients of lies often feel disappointed, resentful, angry, and upset, reactions that do not engender contentment or happiness. In addition, their ability to trust the offenders is diminished and may lead to a general distrust of all human relationships.

     Should we lie or should we not? Is it ever accepted to lie? Are there ever circumstances when people should be allowed to lie? Through the ages, it has been debated whether it is sometimes acceptable to tell lies. In the business ethics, false or misleading advertising is lying. McDonell (2006) stated that in business, surveys indicate that the vast majority of executives believe it is wrong for their employees to lie to them, but one-third approve of their employees telling untruths to their customers and one-half think it is acceptable to lie to safeguard the company. Some assert that lying is never acceptable. Others argue that a lie told to avoid unnecessarily offending someone is reasonable. Some might thinks that lying to avoid giving offense is wrong, and some even thinks it is sometimes acceptable to lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. For example, the husband normally will tell the wife that the food is delicious, even though it is disgusting. He is telling a lie though he taught his children to be honest and always tell the truth. Why can’t he practice what he preached? As for me, there are many ethical and moral issues to consider when people lie, especially during the performance of their duties.

     In my opinion, most people will not hold to principles of “never” or “always” where lying is involved; though generally against them, they will permit them in certain circumstances. In the area of medical ethics or bioethics, lying can be involved in the decision as to whether to tell patients about the seriousness of their illnesses. It used to be common that the children would lie to “protect” the parents, and not tell them if they had a fatal disease such as untreatable cancer. The children normally will keep on saying that “you’re going to get better. There’s no need to worry”. As the parent’s situation worsens and more procedures have to be done (or when a doctor deems there is nothing more to be done), causing more lies to be told. In refusing to tell dying parents the truth about their condition, a situation is set up in which many other lies must follow so as to back up the first. According to Dr. Kubler-Ross (1969, p. 262), “the irony of all this, the dying patients knew the seriousness of their illness whether or not they had been told, and many even knew when they were going to die.” According to Fawler (2004), today, physicians and nurses continue to wrestle with the ethics of lying to patients.

     Once a lie has been told, further lying in other situations becomes easier, often to the point where liars no longer can distinguish between what is or is not the truth as they know it (Thiroux, 2007). And if a liar gets away with one lie that he has told in order to “save his neck,” then future lying becomes easier and sometimes almost a way of life. According to Thiroux (2007), habitual lying increases the chance of discovery, leading to the breakdown of trust and the dilution, if not destruction, of vital human relationships.

     Some people may in favor of lying all the time without realizing that one has a greater chance of being found out and of losing at least the semblance of trustworthiness, something a “good” liar needs to maintain. Most argument for lying suggest that sometimes there are good reasons for telling lies, and in some cases, they say, lying should be encouraged, especially when they need to or when lying could prevent the occurrence of a more serious moral infraction, such as killing. Curtis (2008) highlighted and discussed the two situations where law enforcement officers lie on a regular basis, involved prostitution stings and drug stings. The undercover female officer faces an ethical dilemma when asked by the violator “are you a cop?” If the officer tells a lie, it may go against the morals that have been instilled in her and lower the ethical standard that she has set for herself. If she tells the truth, the case will be blown and it may put her safety at risk. Does this type of behavior make the law enforcement officer involved unethical? Is there justification for when officers lie? There are circumstances where lies and dishonesty are benefits to society. On the reverse, there are also instances where officers lie and society suffer the consequences. Conducting oneself with integrity, ethics and morals will guide him or her through a successful and rewarding career. As for me, it is unacceptable for oneself to conduct him or herself immorally and unethically when an innocent person’s life or liberty is at stake.


Bok, S. (1979). Lying: Moral choice in public and private life. New York: Vintage, p. 16.

Curtis, W. C. (2008). Is there justification for when officers lie? Sheriff: Winter. Florida.

Fowler, E. (2004). An ethical dilemma: Is it ever acceptable to lie to a patient? Br J Perioper Nurs; 14: p. 448-451.

Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying. New York: MacMillan, p. 262.

McDonell, P. J. (2006). Is it ever acceptable to lie? Ophthalmology Times, 31: 18. Career and Technical Education, p. 4.

Thiroux, J. P., & Krasemann, K. W. (2007). Ethics: Theory and practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Leading Through Rough Times: An Interview with Novell's Eric Schmidt

     I would like to share my thoughts and personal reflections based on the interview with Eric Schmidt that has been presented in “Leading through rough times: An interview with Novell’s Eric Schmidt.” Although the interviewer posed only 8 questions, there were a number of pertinent ideas and perspectives projected in the responses. The most important perspective into leadership is that the way a leader responds and reacts in rough times often provides the truest test of his/her leadership. This is clearly proven when Eric Schmidt, the highly respected CTO at Sun Microsystems, who surprised the business world by accepting an offer to become the beleaguered company's third CEO as well as its chairman. Here’s what he learned about facing adversity, and taught us when you enter a downturn, as he said, we have to fight the instinct to be overly cautious.

     Schmidt shared his experience in facing the challenges involved in Novell that was struggling with a slowdown in demand, in bringing a once proud company back to life and then leading it through yet another tough stretch. Schmidt taught us on how to lead through rough times by doing a turnaround in a company’s management. There were times when he had to do a big layoff, get rid of 80% of the executives, and be honest by announcing the shortfall. In order to bring Novell back to life requires the kind of tough and fast action, like stopping the bleeding and stabilizing the patient. He had to cut cost drastically, laid-off more than 1,000 employees, replaced most of the executive management team, and reduced seven layers of management to four. He had to take those painful steps, but they were necessary to save the company. Then the company launched an aggressive PR campaign, announced new products or product upgrades every month. Besides those tactical moves, he also repositioned the company strategically and refocused on the core networking strengths. The biggest challenge for him was to retain the company’s key talent – the ones he called as “smart people” – and kept them motivated.

     Schmidt identified the engineers as the most creative and the smart people, the ones who control the company’s future. He met and talked with each of them, understood their intellectual and technological needs and what their concerns were. Then they told him about their experiences and their frustrations, they were demoralized; no one had listened to them for a long time, and they basically decided to lie low and keep their mouths shut. As a result, lots of great ideas were being lost. Schmidt found that Novell had a “dysfunctional culture”; a sick culture in which he called is as the “culture of fear”. It is a common condition in companies going through rough times, people are always worried about getting laid off, and so they suppress their feelings. Instead of complaining to their bosses, whom they fear might fire them, they complain vociferously to their peers. This situation created a kind of pervasive bellyaching, a corporate cynicism. People would sit in a room, listening to someone talk and nodding in agreement, but then as they left the room, the actually disagree with what they heard.

     Schmidt also taught us on how to overcome a culture of fear by encouraging people to say what was really on their minds. As a leader, we should try to get people to open up and to give voice to the ideas they’d buried inside themselves. We have to give people freedom to pursue their passions, keep them focused and inspired. We must show them that we understand what the cultural problems are and that we are committed to fixing them. For him, most of them will be honest if we give them the opportunity to discuss their concerns. We should offer opportunities not only to motivate people and get them excited about new products or directions but also to address cultural issues on a broad scale. Schmidt reminded us that the cultural issues have been extremely difficult to eradicate because the cultural problems are like cancer, and they keep coming back.

     Schmidt kept the smart people from leaving through his management styles by repeating the same message 20 times, training the trainers, getting in front of people, cheering them on, and also sometimes includes counteroffers. According to Schmidt, the best way to manage smart people is to let them self-organize so they can operate both inside and outside the management hierarchy. Keeping people motivated can be done through recognition, at which we recognize individual accomplishment. We have to change our reward systems to make sure people stayed focused on our key objectives. Make sure they knew that the objectives had to be clearly communicated down the line. We also need to make them feel that they are part of the solution. Most of the companies make the mistake of putting their most creative people in places where their contributions are limited or where they’re resented by others. If the people get frustrated and need to blow off steam, we should invite them to talk to us directly – no go-betweens. To win the heart and minds of our key employees, we have to communicate directly and physically with them. As mentioned by Fryer (2001, p. 189), “eighty percent of winning is just showing up.” In order to keep the organization buoyant through the ups and downs, we must take our cash position very, very seriously – as if the cash were our personal money.

     As mentioned by Schmidt, it’s easy to sit on the outside and criticize the one who’s making the decisions. Taking harsh criticism is part of any top executive’s job. No wonder the allowances increased when we’re at the higher position! For Schmidt, real leadership involves taking the heat and staying focused on the way to achieve the desired outcome. People trust leaders who have toughed it out through crises more than those who’ve had easy sailing. Gone through crises will make us a more credible leaders and still fighting for the organization. What we need to do is to keep things in perspective – flying and doing a difficult maneuver called “circle to land”. According to Schmidt, as long as we pay attention to the important things, we’ll survive. Hopefully…..


Fryer, B. (2001). Leading through rough times: An interview with Novell’s Eric Schmidt. Harvard Business Review on What Makes a Leader. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.